This past weekend the NHL All-Star Competition took place in San Jose, California. Being the first female to compete in the NHL All-star game, Kendall Coyne stole the spotlight, for not only being the first female competitor, but for her impressive performance. She recorded an 14.346 lap time, finishing within a second of the third consecutive winner, Connor McDavid. Kendall Coyne Schofield was asked to replace Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon who missed the game due to injury, and she took the offer without hesitation.
Brianna Decker also made headlines this weekend as she beat Leon Draisaitl, the winner of the premier passer event. Social media exploded with enraged fans, reporters, and teammates using the hashtag #PayDecker as they believe Decker should have been deemed the offical winner. The winner of each event wins a prize of $25,000, but due to the fact that Deckers’ time wasn’t officially registered (as she was demonstrating), Draisaitl was awarded the money. Unlike the NHL or Draisaitl, CCM stepped up and rewarded Decker with the deserved $25,000. Not only did they donate money to Decker, they also donated equal amounts to the three other female athletes that participated in the All-Star Competition.
CCM stated that they understand the importance of recognizing female hockey players, especially ambassadors like Decker. The response and actions of the NHL is a prime example of gender inequality within sport today, a serious sociological issue. It raises a handful of concerns and questions: why aren’t the salaries of professional women hockey players equivalent or similar to men’s? Why isn’t female hockey receiving the same media attention/coverage compared to male hockey? The pay gap between male and female professional hockey players is a significant one. For example, Amanda Kessel received the largest female contract to date, earning an annual $26,000, while her brother Phil Kessel, a forward for the Pittsburg Penguins, earns an annual 10 million dollars. We’re patiently waiting for these questions to be answered, but one thing we do know for certain is that the performances Coyne and Decker presented the hockey world with this past weekend shows that women can compete at equal or even superior levels than their male competitors.
Coyne’s and Decker’s performance shattered barriers and changed the perception not only for women’s hockey, but women’s sports throughout the world. They left the ice with one message engraved into the minds of fans, spectators, reporters, coaches, and parents for many years to come: don’t count women out.